Story Archive » Volume 22 » Issue 5 »

March 18, 2015

Chamber says ‘no’ to race based tender rules



Government’s race-based tendering requirements cannot be justified, says Kay Eade (pictured), CEO of the Alice Springs Chamber of Commerce. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


$5m health teaching facility



The government will this year construct a $5 million training and teaching facility at the Alice Springs Hospital site, allowing staff to be trained using state-of-the art technology to replicate real emergency situations, writes John Elferink, Minister for Health (pictured).


Better WiFi, mobile signal soon south of Gap




Alice Springs residents south of The Gap can look forward to relief for their congested WiFi and mobile phone services.


Visitor robbed and bashed, but footy crowd behaved




A 21-year-old visitor was robbed and bashed from behind this morning, allegedly by three males of Aboriginal appearance. On a lighter note, local police are on the beat on a novel way of transport.


100 kids on the street in the middle of the night

We stayed until around 3am each morning and noted we never saw a police vehicle or night patrol or youth patrol on any day at any time we were there, writes Russell Bray jnr. FULL STORY »

Youth curfew calls ‘ill-founded and dangerous’

Calls for the introduction of youth curfews in Alice Springs are ill-founded and dangerous, writes Julie Edwards CEO, Jesuit Social Services. FULL STORY »

Race rules in NT government tenders draw fire


Companies expecting to win tenders for Territory Government work now will need to have staff that is 30% or 40% Indigenous, reports ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Tender rules: Swap ‘Indigenous’ with ‘local’




The NT Government’s Indigenous employment policy will cause a quantum leap in racism and division.


First Outback Way seal may go further



The first seal of the Outback Way, which traverses Australia east-west through Alice Springs, may be longer than the Federal Government is bartering for. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


No rape jokes for Araluen, please

Jim Jefferies, to perform at Araluen, is known for his misogynistic rants and rape jokes, writes Margaret Carew. FULL STORY »

Virgin new link to Centre for overseas tourists



Chief Minister is betting a bottle of Grange that Virgin will bring about cheaper air travel to The Centre. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Airport firies stage a watery welcome for the Virgin inaugural flight today.


Fest to honour late rock hero Rowley Hill



Blacken the Globe will Rock for Rowley. RAINER CHLANDA reports.


Water for growth doubted in govt draft



There seems to be little spare water for uses other than supplying the town, at its present rate of consumption, according to the NT Government’s Draft Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan 2013-2018. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Ali Curung watermelon plantation some 400 km north of Alice Springs – should horticulture draw water from the Amadeus basin? FULL STORY »

Water foes on same page about exploration




Two arch foes on issues of water management say they are on the same page about the urgent need for exploration of new resources. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

How ice began to ruin my life: former addict



A recovering ice addict in Alice Springs tells ANDREA JOHNSTON how she got hook on the drug now widely considered the most vicious drug on the illicit market. Photo courtesy police. FULL STORY »

Ice – it’s worse than any of us realise




This is a girl before and after becoming addicted to ice.


Town inured to Aboriginal violence: lawyer



The public of Alice Springs is both inured to violence in Aboriginal society, because of its frequency, and afraid of speaking out about it, lest this is interpreted as being racist. So says Russell Goldflam (pictured), president of the Criminal Lawyers Association, commenting on the current debate about the alleged rape of an Aboriginal nine year old girl in an Alice Springs town camp. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Government in lockdown over water management




The NT Government has slapped an information black-out on any details relating to the water supply of Alice Springs – and this includes answering questions about issues already on the public record. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Funding for stage one of Oz’s longest shortcut



Funding for Stage 1 of the Northern Territory section of the Outback Way has today been approved,writes Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.


Council charges drive up housing costs: developer




A property developer says the town council is driving up the cost of housing with unnecessary and unfair charges, including double dipping in some instances. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Olive Pink turns 30, ambitious future ahead



Olive Pink Botanical Gardens, Alice’s “globally unique treasure,” turns 30. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Chairperson for 10 years Libby Prell, addressing guests on Thursday.


Bequest yields first book and ‘a true message to Australia’




A bequest from the late Alice Springs artist and children’s book illustrator Pamela Lofts to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has borne its first fruit: The Yirara Mix Book,  launched in an event at the Town Library last week.


Bowls, anyone, and a spot of fishing?


Bowlers in Streaky Bay – affectionately known as the beach suburb of Alice Springs – are issuing a challenge to the sport’s aficionados in The Centre, to compete in annual Whiting Carnival in the first week of May. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

16 years for inflicting ‘torturous’ death on J. Pollard




The four men who pleaded guilty to the reckless manslaughter of J. Pollard on 18 February 2013 have each been sentenced to 16 years in gaol. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
UPDATED, Friday, 20 March 2015, 4.44pm. FULL STORY »

We get 10% of wellhead price for our gas



“What’s in it for me” is a frequent question asked by people trying to get their heads around the many, many zeros in the numbers denoting the quantity and value of natural gas beneath our feet. ERWIN CHLANDA went looking for answers. Photo of gas plant at Palm Valley by STEVE STRIKE.


Funding cuts hurt Alice: Chamber of Commerce survey




Government funding cuts to Indigenous programs have pulled millions of dollars out of the Alice Springs community, according to a survey by the local Chamber of Commerce, CEO, Kay Eade (pictured).


Old aircraft with a big story



The personal aircraft of a former German Chancellor and later used on hundreds of flights between Alice and Ayers Rock is the latest acquisition of the local Aviation Museum, reports ANDREA JOHNSTON.


Wrangle over your car’s data not quite resolved



Car makers and owners aren’t quite on the same wavelength – yet – about access to the data identifying a mechanical problem. But “consumer detriment” is likely to tip the scales. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: What does it mean when the lights don’t go out?


Gas: It doesn’t get much bigger



In terms of dollars it doesn’t get much bigger in the Northern Territory than onshore gas. And royalties for it go to the NT Government. Offshore royalties go to Canberra. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. IMAGE from the Santos website.


Gas the “glittering prize” but fracking worries some




Gas and oil will make the Territory an economic powerhouse, says the Treasurer, but fears of fracking persist. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Disquiet over fracking at Town Council meeting



The only way to protect aquifers at present is “not to drill”. So says Councillor Eli Melky, a perhaps unexpected bedfellow for anti-fracking protesters, pictured this morning outside the annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar at the Convention Centre.  KIERAN FINNANE  reports.


Van Holthe sells out his electorate on TIO, fracking



Willem Westra van Holthe (pictured) sold out his Katherine electorate over the TIO sale. Now he’s chairing a government committee on fracking, which Katherine opposes, writes Katherine resident Bruce Francais.


Black and beautiful back to the runway




Local Aboriginal models, girls and boys, women and men will again take to the runway in Alice this winter, showcasing the work of Aboriginal designers, local and national. FULL STORY »

Alice’s mountain biking ‘gold mine’




Alice Springs is sitting on a “gold mine” in mountain biking tourism, says former Australian velodrome champion and born and bred local, John Pyper.


The farce of Minister Chandler’s Yirara ‘assessment’



The two-day “assessment” this week of Yirara College, embroiled in a scandal over rampant student misconduct, was a farce, according to a new source speaking to the Alice Springs News Online and currently employed by the college. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.



Lamenting lines of life sentence and lifestyle choices



There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the moment by people who are well employed and salaried, speaking out on behalf of those who are not. Self-help is not a favored option, it seems, despite Aboriginal shareholding in major businesses. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.


Tax money for bush: Don’t ask how much. Ask how.



Costs to government to support Aboriginal people to live in the bush wouldn’t be prohibitive if the focus was appropriate technology and infrastructure that enables self–reliance and sustainability, write Dr Steve Rogers and Peter Renehan from the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) in Alice Springs.


Youth detention system a failure

The failings of the Territory’s youth detention system under multiple governments were made abundantly clear last week with the release of the Review of the Northern Territory Youth Detention System Report, writes Julie Edwards, CEO of the Jesuit Social Services. FULL STORY »

Land use: poor enforcement of rules


Walk with ERWIN CHLANDA through the thicket of land planning, land use and government administration: You’ll get to places that will make you say “what the hell,” some will please you, and a few will give you a laugh. PHOTO: The new Kilgariff suburb: Almost all of stage 1A sold or under offer.

Wearable Namatjira




Transferring delicate visions of the desert landscape in the Namatjira tradition to limited edition silk circle skirts and scarves is the latest innovative project from Ngurratjuta Many Hands artists in partnership with Batchelor Institute. And they are using crowd funding to back the venture. FULL STORY »

Paddys in Alice have a cause to celebrate




St Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, and in a tradition developed over the last four years a group called “Paddys in Alice” is raising funds for a charity – this year for a very sick little girl. ANDREA JOHNSTON reports.


IAD may close

A key Central Australian Indigenous education and training organisation may have to close its doors because of cuts to essential funding under the Federal Government’s Indigenous Advancement strategy, writes its CEO. FULL STORY »

Faces change. So does Alice’s.

Hal Duell Vision



Except for Market Sundays, Bunnings can attract a bigger weekend crowd than Todd Mall. Yeperenye seems to every day.


Sick tree Melanka concern




Arborist Geoff Miers has been asked to report on a sacred tree on the Melanka site.


A weapon concealed in knee replacement?

Airport security checks of people with artificial joints are “annoying, time consuming, and totally pointless nonsense,” writes Charlie Carter. FULL STORY »

Education Minister in Yirara cover-up




Education Minister Peter Chandler has rejected an offer from two teachers to meet with him in person and give him detailed, first-hand information about problems at Yirara College. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Alice-designed technology helps community and tourists



Traditional owners have used their rent income from the Finke Gorge National Park to put two mobile phone hotspots, developed by the Centre for Appropriate Technology, along the notorious Boggy Hole access track to the park.


Cyclone John: Police Commissioner’s trail of destruction



The political and legal cyclone which whirled in following the resignation of Northern Territory Police Commissioner John McRoberts on January 15 is still wreaking havoc: The fat lady hasn’t even walked onstage yet, let alone started singing. COMMENT by By RUSSELL GOLDFLAM (pictured), President, Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT.


Your car’s data: Who owns them?

p2221-diagnostic-tool-SMForget metadata and spying governments: When your car gives up the ghost a hundred miles from nowhere, the data you are worried about are those of your vehicle. Right now these are the subject of a major brawl from which the consumer seems set to be emerging victorious. PHOTO: “After-market” car diagnostic tool from China: When you buy a vehicle, should you not receive a genuine one from the manufacturer? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Cuts give Indigenous advancement “uncertain future”

Local government in the bush is grappling with Federal funding cuts, write President Adrian Dixon and CEO Cathryn Hutton, of the Central Desert Regional Council.

Prime Minister attacks wellbeing in remote Australia



The Prime Minister cares more for “Phil the Greek” than for people in the outback, writes Sid Anderson (pictured), MacDonnell Regional Council President.


Yirara College: Minister Chandler on the case



Education Minister Peter Chandler says he is prepared to order an investigation into Yirara College (pictured) if there is evidence of tumultuous conduct and danger to students and staff as has been alleged by our sources over the past two weeks. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Yirara College chairman responds to reports, questions

Tim Stollznow, Chairman of Yirara’s Committee of Management, is responding on behalf of the college, and the Finke River Mission, to reports in the Alice Springs News Online, and to emails from the News asking a string of questions.

CAALAS: Questions about travel money, credit card



EXCLUSIVE: Serious questions about travel allowances for board members and the use of a credit card by former CEO Pat Miller will cast a shadow over tomorrow’s AGM of the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. IMAGE: Taking the law bush at Haasts Bluff.


Desert Knowledge acting CEO quits



Paul Davis has resigned as the acting CEO of Desert Knowledge and is “in discussion” about joining the Hatzimihail Group which is seeking to establish a Technology complex in the DK precinct (pictured). ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


The cruel death of J. Pollard: killers plead guilty



Life in gaol, never to receive visitors: that’s the punishment the family of J. Pollard see fit for his cruel killers. In the Supreme Court today four men pleaded guilty to causing his death recklessly. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Authority procrastinates over land use: Lambley



The Development Consent Authority needs to get its act together, says MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley (pictured). ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


The ABC, the Burka and equality

Steve Brown comment


My wife Janet posted a comment on FaceBbook about the wearing of the the Burka. When she was interviewed about it on the ABC she was asked if her comments reflected mine. Why?


“Our” Araluen too expensive?

I request the Friends of Araluen to do their best to have the Travelling Film Festival return “home” to Araluen next year, writes Mark Wilson. FULL STORY »

WorkSafe says it’s all good at Yirara College


“De-escalating serious student behaviour” was already on the Yirara College agenda two years ago when Work Safe issued an improvement notice. However, the industry watchdog says it has had no complaints from Yirara since. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Image: Copy of a memorandum leaked to the Alice Springs News Online. FULL STORY »

Government mum as rural living takes pounding




A resident in Petrick Road says he is at his wits’ end with the inaction of NT Government about what he describes as blatant breaches of planning laws, turning rural residential land into an industrial block. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Artist found voice in ‘melting pot’ of The Centre


How welcome to hear an assessment of Central Australia’s “vital artistic community” as one of encounter between the cultures, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. This is where  JOHN KEAN situates the work of artist Marina Strocchi whose survey show opened at Araluen on the weekend. FULL STORY »

Cull troublemakers, says Yirara College teacher



Rampant misconduct by some students is making Yirara unsafe for other students and staff and makes meaningful teaching all but impossible. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. IMAGE: Work of a student.


Fracking needs robust regulation: Report (& updates)


The long-awaited Hawke report into fracking has been released today. It says “environmental risks can be managed effectively subject to the creation of a robust regulatory regime” and there is no need for a moratorium. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
UPDATES – views of Minerals Council and Arid Lands Environment Centre.


Anti social conduct outside Memo Club eased


Anti-social behaviour outside Memo Club is no longer a significant issue since police have “proactively engaged with management to ensure compliance with security and licensing requirements,” says police spokesman Simon Eldridge. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Former police commissioner to be investigated for crime



The government accepts a recommendation that John McRoberts (pictured with a naval officer) be investigated for the criminal offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice, write Chief Minister Adam Giles and Police Minister Peter Chandler.


16% of public dwellings vacant, 614 applicants waiting



There are 114 unoccupied dwellings public housing dwellings in Alice Springs and about 614 applicants on the wait list, according to a spokeswoman for Housing Minister Bess Price. Vandalism continues to be a problem. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Fracking moratorium needed: Alliance



The Frack-Free Alliance welcomes the release of the Hawke Inquiry and calls on the government to initiate an immediate moratorium “on this proven high risk, low return industry”.


Rocky Hill vineyard threat to our drinking water



As the Rocky Hill Grape Block lies directly above the drinking groundwater supplies of Alice Springs, there is a real and ongoing health risk posed by a pollution threat, writes hydrogeologist Robert Read Richie Hayes, who runs the Rocky Hill operation, declined to comment..


Clontarf: it’s more than footy



“The main goal is to get them finishing year 12, and then there’s an employment program to help them get work and be successful in society after school.” ANDREA JOHNSTON reports about Clontarf making a difference. FULL STORY »

Lambley broadside: Giles arrogant, dishonest




International convention demands Adam Giles should have resigned, said Robyn Lambley (pictured): “Instead he threatened he would prefer to bring down our government. I believe Adam Giles has no integrity.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Yirara: 100% failure doesn’t worry Minister

Peter Chandler


We now have an education minister, Peter Chandler (pictured), asserting that a boarding school, 40 years old, funded by his department, does not warrant an investigation although every single one of its students is in the bottom quartile of achievement. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.


Impu to spend at least 14 years in prison



Bruce Impu (pictured), who pleaded guilty to eight counts of rape at gunpoint of two European tourists in Alice Springs in 2012, was today sentenced to 15 years with 12 year non-parole period. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Hatzimihail project: DK seeks more details




Desert Knowledge chairman Ken Johnson (pictured) says the board is seeking further details about the multi-million dollar proposal of the Hatzimihail Group for the precinct south of The Gap. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Katherine council opposes fracking

Two NT councils have joined the rapidly growing list of local councils across Australia opposing fracking, writes Charmaine Roth, of the Don’t Frack Katherine group. FULL STORY »

Licensing red tape cut, council told


Good-bye NT Licensing Commission, hello Director-General of Licensing, and back to the drawing board for the cemetery chapel (drawing at left): The town council got food for thought at last night’s meeting. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Get tough with unruly students: Former Yirara staff



A former Yirara staff member says double standards applied by management to the 14 house parents often causes bad blood. By ERWIN CHLANDA. IMAGE from the Yirara College website.


Yirara: Rebellion and failure or meeting a challenge?



Two teachers who worked at Yirara last year gave an alarming account of students’ behaviour and poor results to Editor ERWIN CHLANDA for an exclusive report. It also looks at the effect of the scandalously inadequate primary school education many students receive in the bush before they are sent to the residential college in Alice Springs.


Bring back first home grant: Real estate agent




A prominent Alice Springs real estate agent, Justin O’Brien (pictured), says the NT Government should reinstate the first home owners grant for existing homes. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

NT fracking regulations ‘Australia’s weakest’



The NT system of regulating fracking needs a complete overhaul and the government is yet to take any steps to remedy these shambolic laws, writes David Morris (pictured), from the Environmental Defenders Office NT. FULL STORY »

Neglected past to get a bright future




Living in a sanctuary amongst sculptures by one of your favourite artists sounds idyllic for any art and nature fan, but the challenges in one mysterious corner of Alice Springs are anything but. ANDREA JOHNSTON reports from the Pitchi Richi sanctuary.


No room on plane for local Member



It was mean-spirited of the Chief Minister Adam Giles to refuse me a seat on his taxpayer-funded charter flight to my home town of Tennant Creek to attend the commencement of the re-enactment of the Borella Ride, writes Gerry McCarthy, Member for Barkly. FULL STORY »

Searching for Kurlpulunu



“Engineer Jack he told us that the plant played a big part in Yapa mythology and that the dreaming connected to it involved a big bird (“as big as an aeroplane”) that caused the death of dingoes.” PETER LATZ, author and botanist, continues his account of adventures in the bush with traditional owners. FULL STORY »

Real estate market ‘crashing and burning’


The real estate market is “crashing and burning” at least in part because of the NT Government’s restriction of its grants for new home buyers to new dwellings. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. ABOVE: A scene from the boom times.


Current political upheaval mirrors the past



One fact that stands out from all the controversy swirling around Territory politics at present is just how closely it echoes the events of a quarter century ago that almost unravelled the CLP in the 1980s. ALEX NELSON comments. He is pictured when he was chosen as the CLP Member of the Year in August 1990.

Present pollies not a patch on past




Past politicians’ standards of behaviour and intellect were far superior to anything we see today, and their achievements vastly more outstanding, writes ALEX NELSON. PHOTO by him: Former Senator Bernie Kilgariff.




Budget gets thumbs up from interest groups. Reply by Gunner ignores health spending in Centre.

NT Budget 2015.

Tourism: let the battle for the big spenders begin. First in a series by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Parks authority controls people, not weeds.



School of the Air: Show and tell or being there.

A day in the sun for Alice Springs.

Land grab, but no dying pillow.

Discount fuel 8 cents cheaper.

Tourism recovery? The proof will be in this year’s pudding.

Playing race relations for laughs.

Gunfire brekkie after moving ceremony.

Anzac Day dawn service, 2015.

Anzac links by hands, hearts and hard drives.

Keyboard vigilantes.

Pat and Norma Brennan: 50 years devoted to each-other, and tourism.

Comic take on clash of cultures.



Needed youth services missing from Budget: Councillor.

Thoughts on war and peace from a cyclist in Alice.

HAL DUELL: Banning lightning carnival won’t work as a quick fix.

Rock throwing kids already in care. Minister should scrutinise his own department.

Alice oval to get top athletics track.

Nearly all stage one blocks sold in Kilgariff. FULL STORY »

Police seek witnesses of domestic violence attack

A 30-year-old woman suffered serious head injuries in the Hidden Valley camp on Wednesday evening, writes Detective Superintendent Brent Warren. FULL STORY »